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New program will assist Pittsburgh and Allegheny County residents with 'tangled titles'

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A new program aims to assist people living in their homes without the property legally in their name — a situation known as "tangled title."

A new program aims to assist people living in their homes without the property legally in their name — a situation known as a “tangled title.”

CLEAR (Clinic for Legal Equity and Repairs) through nonprofit Catapult Greater Pittsburgh launched last month.

“A big portion of our city's blight, vacancy, and abandonment issues can be attributed to tangled title issues, particularly in low-income, Black communities,” said Catapult executive director Tammy Thompson in a press release. “Families are losing billions of dollars in generational wealth across the country because of this issue, and we're excited that we can help families here in Pittsburgh resolve these complicated legal matters while also helping resolve health and safety repair issues that could force a family to walk away from a home.”

Such situations often arise when a homeowner dies without legally transferring the property to a child or other heir, either by not putting their name on a deed or not having a will, said Gabby DeMarchi, director of equity protection at Catapult.

Not having your name on the deed also means you can’t access programs for home repairs or other assistance, she said.

The cost of hiring an attorney for a deed transfer is often an obstacle, said attorney Irene McLaughlin Clark, a former Pittsburgh Housing Court Magistrate, who will be providing legal services for the program.

“That is typically what I see and I hear: ‘Well, I needed to come up with $3,000 and I don't have $3,000,” Clark said.

In addition to assistance with title issues, DeMarchi said the program will also help residents with accessing home-repair assistance and wills.

There are no eligibility requirements for the program, but Catapult “is prioritizing individuals and families who are 62 and older, caregivers of children 18 and younger, and those who are veterans or widows/widowers of veterans. Catapult will also be focusing on the preservation of Black homeownership, and the property in question must be within Allegheny County,” according to a press release. Learn more or apply online here.

A separate program to assist with tangled titles is available through Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority for income-qualified Pittsburgh residents.

Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.